Ten Business Writing Tips that Are as Useful as a Clean Shirt.

 

A clean shirt, but I'd rather have great business writing tips.

A clean shirt gets you through the meeting, but great business writing tips will get you further.

 You wouldn’t go to a business lunch with a coffee stain on your shirt, so why would you write anything that doesn’t give your readers the best impression of you and your business? Most people don’t equate grammar skills with fashion sense or proofreading with that final check in the mirror before you leave the house. Yet, in a world where communication is increasingly done via email, Facebook posts and Tweets, writing is the basis of the proverbial first impression that doesn’t get a second chance. Learn how to use good business writing skills to let you and your product shine.

1. Write for your reader. Granted, you don’t write anything just to hear the beat of the keyboard keys, but Instead of writing to fulfill your need to communicate an idea, write from the perspective of your readers’ needs.

2. Create an outline. I know that your middle-school teacher used outlines to torment you, but what I mean is a short list that organizes your thoughts. It’ll only take a few minutes, but it’ll keep you focused and save you time.

3. Stay on topic. Pick one topic for your piece and stick to it. Don’t send an email with multiple goals. When you write a press release about a brand-new product, don’t mention the recent hire of your CEO.

4. Keep your piece short because you offer solutions, not problems. A common problem many of us have is time. There simply isn’t enough of it. Reading material surrounds us. So keep yours short and to the point.

5. Avoid jargon. Phrases like “consumer-centric” and “out of the box” don’t belong in business writing. Even if you are writing to your colleagues, it’s almost always better to use plain English. “Consumer-driven” and “original” are more powerful because they are well-understood.

6. Use short sentences. It takes more time to read a long sentence than two short sentences.

7. Use short words. Don’t say “utilize” when “use” works just as well. “Purchase” is usually better than “buy.”

8. Be active. Don’t say that report was written by you. Say you wrote that report. Active voice makes your writing more powerful.

9. Edit ruthlessly. If a clever sentence has nothing to do with your topic, delete it. Pay special attention to phrases at the beginning of sentences. Ask yourself if phrases like “for example” and “furthermore” add to your text.

10. Proofread carefully. Your software’s spell-check feature is useful, but don’t count on it. It often can’t tell if you’ve used “their” when it should have been “they’re.” Chances are your spell-check doesn’t know how to spell your client’s name, either.

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Would You Rather Measure Your Social Media Success or Loan Mandy $100?

Has your social media campaign translated into more money for your business?

Are you getting a return on your social media investment?

 The other day I opened my Facebook account to find out that one my friends just answered a question about me. I clicked the link to find one of Facebook’s applications, the Truth Game. There I found out the “truth” about what my friends think of me. For instance, I’m a reliable person who isn’t lazy. For 200 points, I can find out who thinks I’ve slapped someone and who thinks my SAT score is above 1500. As thought-provoking as these insights are, the Truth Game really got me thinking about how a company can measure its social media marketing success.

If you’ve been running a social media campaign, you’d probably love something like the Truth Game. With it you could find out how many of your fans think yours is a reliable company with a great product. You could find out how many fans think your products are over-priced or prefer your competitor. Wouldn’t you love to know how many of your fans have purchased your product and would recommend it to a friend?

Social media marketing hasn’t lent itself well to metrics like the ones above that quantify a campaign’s success. The Internet is a nebulous, fluctuating landscape that lacks a heirarchy. In other words, unlike traditional media, your consumers talk to you—and about you—as much as, if not more than, you talk to them.

With comments, forums and rating sites, your reputation is being molded instantly and widely. Although this dynamic picture is difficult to capture, measuring your social media campaign’s influence on it is essential. But how do you measure your reputation? More importantly, how do you measure the effect that the Internet has had on your bottom-line?

Below are six items that you can quantify and use to measure your social media marketing campaign and make it more successful.

1. Measure your investment. Track the time and money you devote to each media outlet.

2. Measure your online reputation. Opinion is subjective, but its effect on your business isn’t. Set up a Google alert for your company name to find out what people are saying about you. Give these comments a numeric rating based on how negative or positive they are.

3. Count your friends, or subscribers or fans. These connections indicate how relevant and interesting your content it.

4. Count the comments. Great content engages consumers. You can measure this engagement by counting how many comments consumers leave on your posts.

5. Count the click-through. Your website is where conversion happens. Make sure its link appears everywhere your company does, and measure how many people arrive at your website with these links.

6. Count the change. Any kind of marketing needs to carry out one goal: increased sales. Whether online or offline, track your sales and compare them to the metrics above.

By 2016, major corporations will use social media marketing as much as they use television ads, meaning social media will remain an important venue to build your brand. The great news is that social media is far less expensive than television ads, giving your business a leveled playing field. Being the small business that you are, you need some way of measuring social media marketing success to prevent wasting your precious resources. The above metrics make that measurement easier for you, while I, on the other hand, am going to work toward 200 points to find out which friend I can hit up for $100.

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